Research

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Woolf Laboratory

Boston Children's Hospital
3 Blackfan Circle
CLS 12260
Boston, MA 02115

Neural Plasticity Research Group

This group is devoted to investigating the way in which functional, chemical and structural plasticity of neurons contributes to adaptive and maladaptive function of the mammalian nervous system. Our major efforts are devoted to the study of pain, the formation of neural circuits during development, and failure of regeneration of the adult CNS. Most of our work is concentrated on primary sensory and spinal cord neurons using a multidisciplinary approach spanning, molecular and cell biology, bioinformatics, synaptic electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, integrative systems biology and behavior. The group works closely with a wide number of academic groups and the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry to identify and validate molecular targets for novel analgesics and axonal growth determinants.

Some of the major research interests of the group include:

  • The role of the DRAGON/RGM family of membrane associated proteins.
  • Role of tetrahydrobiopterin in pain.
  • Neuro-immune interactions.
  • Post-translational processing and transcriptional control of membrane receptors and ion channels mediating pain hypersensitivity.
  • Intracellular signal transduction cascade and transcription factor activation in neurons.
  • Mechanisms responsible for cell survival in injured sensory and motor neurons.
  • Relative contributions of intrinsic growth determinants and extrinsic growth inhibitors in establishing regenerative capacity in the central nervous system.
  • Role of cell death in producing neuropathic pain.
  • Central sensitization, it's mechanism and contribution to pain.
  • Clinical trials to establish the mechanisms responsible for producing pain.
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